Fatherless Children

REPORT: Children Need Dads Too: Children with fathers in prison

Quakers United Nations Office, 13, Avenue du Mervelet , 1209 Geneva, SW

Tel: + 41 22 748 48 03

July 2009

PDF Click here

Children are heavily impacted by parental imprisonment and greater attention should be given to their rights, needs and welfare in criminal justice policy and practice. Due to a variety of reasons such as mothers often being the primary or sole carer of children, complicated care arrangements, the likelihood of women prisoners being greater distances from home and a host of factors explored in detail in other QUNO publications, maternal imprisonment can be Read More ..maging for children than paternal imprisonment. However, it is important not to underestimate the damage that paternal imprisonment can have on children.

Children with incarcerated fathers experience many of the same problems as those with incarcerated mothers, including coping with loss, environmental disruption, poverty, stigmatisation, health problems and all of the difficulties involved in visiting a parent in prison. It appears that there are also some difficulties specifically associated with paternal imprisonment, such as a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and strained relationships between the mother and child.

The numbers of children separated from their fathers due to imprisonment is far higher than those separated from their mothers due to the vast majority of prisoners being men (globally over 90 per cent of prisoners are male. To ignore this group would, therefore, be to neglect the vast majority of children affected by parental imprisonment.

Large research gaps exist regarding the needs of children of incarcerated fathers. Not only are statistics on the numbers of children affected by paternal imprisonment lacking, but also information on how to maintain a healthy relationship with incarcerated fathers, positive parenting by men in prisons and how to deliver and evaluate family strengthening and child support programmes aimed at this group.

One reason that the children of imprisoned fathers have been neglected in research, policy and support programmes is quite simply that they are easier to overlook. It is harder to ignore the parenting responsibilities of a pregnant woman or a woman with visible care-giving responsibilities.

Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of prisoners are male and that, certainly in some jurisdictions, most of these men are fathers with parenting responsibilities, the children of these men tend to have been 'out of sight and out of mind of community organisations,' practitioners and policy provisions. The meager support that does exist for children of imprisoned parents has focused almost exclusively on female prisoners. This is legitimate but should not overshadow the contributions, both real and potential, of incarcerated fathers in their children's lives.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasises the need to protect children from any discrimination or punishment based on their parents' status or activities and that the child's best interests should be a primary consideration. It also highlights a child's right to maintain contact with a separated parent. It is important that provisions are made to care for the children of all imprisoned parents, and that work is done to protect a child's right to contact with imprisoned fathers as well as with imprisoned mothers as long as this is in the child's best interest.

This paper attempts to bring together available information on paternal imprisonment in order to identify the issues, raise awareness, promote further research and encourage changes in policy and practice. This should be done in ways that complement the necessary work of supporting women in prison and children of imprisoned mothers. The aim is to ensure that children are a central concern in all cases of parental imprisonment and that gender specific concerns are fully understood in order to enable effective policy creation and the promotion and protection of the best interests of the child.

Mothers Who Kill Their Own Children


Affair led to mother murdering her own kids

Days after buying another woman Valentine's Day flowers, a Sydney father came home to find a trail of blood leading him to the bodies of his two young children lying next to their mother, a court has been told.

Australian Associated Press
Aug 24 2009

The woman had given the couple's three-year-old daughter and four-year-old son rat poison and an unidentified pink liquid before smothering them and killing them, court papers said.

She then tried to take her own life, the NSW Supreme Court was told.

Doctors agree the mother, from Canley Heights in Sydney's west, was suffering from "major depression" when she poisoned her children on February 19 last year.

She has pleaded not guilty to the two murders by reason of mental illness.

As her judge-alone trial began, the mother's lawyer told Justice Clifton Hoeben his client didn't think life was worth living after learning about her husband's affair.

American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association
Dating Violence Statistics in the United States

Nearly one in 10 girls and one in 20 boys say they have been raped or experienced some other form of abusive violence on a date, according to a study released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Teen depression on the increase in U.K.- teen suicide statistics

Teen depression on the increase

More and More teens are becoming depressed. The numbers of young people suffering from depression in the last 10 years has risen worryingly, an expert says.

BBC, UK, August 3, 2004

Government statistics suggest one in eight adolescents now has depression.

Unless doctors recognise the problem, Read More ..uld slip through the net, says Professor Tim Kendall of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

Guidelines on treating childhood depression will be published next year. Professor Kendall says a lot Read More ..eds to be done to treat the illness.

Associated Press logo

Woman convicted of killing 3 kids after custody battle


HELSINKI, Finland - A court in Finland has convicted a woman of murdering her three young children and has given her a life sentence.

The Espoo District Court says Thai-born Yu-Hsiu Fu was found guilty of strangling her 8-year-old twin daughters and 1-year-old son in her home.

She tried to kill herself afterward.

The verdict on Tuesday says the 41-year-old woman was found to be of sound mind at the time of the murders.

Court papers show the murders were preceded by a bitter custody battle with her Finnish husband who was living separately from her at the time of the murders.

A life sentence in Finland mean convicts usually serve at least 11 years in prison.

Canadian Press - New Brunswick woman ruled responsible in burning of baby's body

New Brunswick woman ruled responsible in burning of baby's body

ST. STEPHEN, N.B. - A New Brunswick judge says a woman who burned and dismembered her newborn son is criminally responsible for her actions.

Becky Sue Morrow earlier pleaded guilty to offering an indignity to a dead body and disposing of a newborn with the intent of concealing a delivery.

Judge David Walker ruled Friday that the 27-year-old woman may have been suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered the baby but that that was not the case when the baby's body was burned and its remains hidden.

It is not known if the baby was alive at the time of birth.

At a hearing last month, the court heard contrasting reports from the two psychiatrists. One said Ms. Morrow was in a "disassociated" mental state when the crime occurred. The other said she clearly planned her actions and understood the consequences.